koCollagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and that holds true whether you are a human, canine, equine, feline, and so forth. Think of collagen as the glue holding the contents of the body together. About one-third of the protein in your dog’s body is collagen.
As your dog's body ages, collagen productions slows down. That is also when most arthritic issues start to surface, and skin and coat quality may decline. Collagen for dogs supplementation isn’t a fountain of youth for your dog, but it can help him combat and delay many of the signs of aging.
Benefits of Collagen for Dogs
Collagen has many benefits, but the three most desirable are it's positive effects on mobility, skin and coat, and digestion. Let's take a look at how collagen interacts with each of these systems.
Collagen can improve mobility in dogs afflicted with arthritis. It’s a natural supplement that helps to lubricate and protect connective tissues that support the hips and joints. It can also help to replenish your dog's natural collagen levels. It can be used preventatively in dogs that are approaching senior years or even for breeds that are prone to joint issues.
It is an excellent way to boost the quality of your pet’s skin and coat health. Skin is supposed to be elastic, and collagen is what gives your dog's skin it's healthy elasticity. Dogs with healthy collagen levels tend to shed less, itch less, and have a softer, shinier coat. It's also beneficial for the health of their nails.
Dogs suffering from gastrointestinal issues may benefit from collagen too. Collagen helps to soothe and repair tissues in your dog's digestive tract that can contribute to poor digestion and nutrient absorption. It's also a common holistic approach to managing leaky gut syndrome.
Finally, the bonus benefit of collagen is that it's delicious. It's best sourced from animal sources, so it's a welcomed treat for even picky dogs.. Natural chews, like beef tendons and bone are an excellent source of collagen. Collagen supplements for dogs can be added as meal toppers, or tasty bone broth recipes can be fed as a side dish to your dog's regular meal.
When to Start Feeding Collagen Supplements
While it is true that young dogs do not have the same need for supplemental collagen as older canines, osteoarthritis and joint disease might start earlier than many people suspect.
Genetics plays a role, as some dogs and breeds are more susceptible to joint disease than others. Large dogs are more prone to joint disease and arthritis, but all dogs are vulnerable.
By adding more collagen to your dog’s diet early on, you may fend off some of the aches and pains of aging down the road. While you should consult your vet about any supplements you give your dog, collagen is a safe product and will not harm your pet.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with collagen, as well as other natural products enhancing joint mobility such as turmeric, MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin, can keep him feeling pain-free longer. As he ages, you may even avoid the need for prescription canine arthritis drugs, or reduce the amount necessary.
Dietary Sources of Collagen
Collagen is derived from various animal proteins, along with some non-animal sources. The primary sources of collagen for dogs include:
- Marine collagen –Derived from fish, marine collagen comes from the skin, scales, bones, and fins. Its low molecular weight allows for efficient absorption.
- Bovine collagen –Derived from the bones, hides, and cartilage of cattle, bovine collagen is especially useful for skin, bone, joint and gut health. Bovine collagen can boost the body’s own collagen production.
- Porcine collagen – Derived from the bones, skin, and connective tissues from pork.
- Fowl collagen –Collagen derived from chicken, turkey, duck, and other domestic poultry aids in cartilage support.
- Eggs are another good collagen source.
Vegetable sources of collagen include:
- Leafy greens
- Red and yellow vegetables
If you do choose a vegetarian collagen source for your dog, then make sure you are feeding it safely and in appropriate quantities. Garlic, for example, can be toxic if fed in large doses. To safely feed garlic, dogs should only be eating about 1/6 of a tsp per 5lbs of body weight.
While this small quantity of garlic offers many health benefits, it will hardly be a sufficient source of collagen. Instead, try to offer a variety of collagen sources from both plant and animal ingredients to meet your dog's needs.
Speaking of feeding vegetables safely, some pet-safe collagen-rich vegetables, like tomatoes, can be dangerous if fed wrong. Ripe tomatoes are perfectly safe, but don’t feed your dog unripe tomatoes or parts of the tomato plant that are toxic.
Collagen Chews for Dogs
Since your pet loves to chew, one of the best ways to boost his collagen intake is by providing him with natural collagen chews for dogs. Backstrap or beef tendons for dogs are good sources of dietary collagen, and he’ll enjoy every minute of chewing.
You can also offer raw bones for dogs, as the connective tissues on knuckles, shoulders, and kneecaps are an excellent source of collagen.
Bone Broth for Dogs
Bone broth for dogs is another good source of collagen and is especially beneficial in gut lining repair. It's growing popularity has produced some simple commercially made bone broth products for easy supplementing. Honest Kitchen bone broth consists of various types, including beef and turkey. Grass-fed beef bone broth is available from Open Farm.
Bone broth is easy to make if you would rather do it yourself than purchase it from the store. You will need a crockpot and Mason jars. Follow these simple steps:
- Add 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- On low heat, cook 24 hours
- Strain all bone
- For more benefits, add turmeric, kelp, or coconut oil
- Let mixture cool completely
- Put the mixture in Mason jars
- You can use the mixture for three days after refrigeration. Freeze any excess
Whether you buy bone broth or make it yourself, go organic. That way, you are not passing on the potential antibiotic or pesticide residue to your dog.
Raw Diets and Collagen
If you are feeding a raw diet, you have already gotten a good start on collagen for dogs. Amino acids from beef and chicken help produce collagen, so raw diets are suitable for dogs with mobility issues or arthritis. Raw bones for dogs and beef tendons for dogs are excellent collagen sources, and can be incorporated into your dog’s raw food routine.
How Much Collagen Can You Give a Dog?
You can’t really overdose your dog on collagen if fed as part of his natural diet. With supplementation, how much you should give your pet depends on his size and weight.
Dogs love the taste of collagen supplements, so you should not have any problem getting your pet to eat them. Because the taste is so appealing, you can use some forms of collagen supplements to hide medication or other supplements your dog is less likely to scarf down.
Human Collagen for Dogs
People consume collagen for many of the same reasons dog owners give it to their pets. Humans seek relief from arthritis pain, joint and tendon flexibility, less wrinkling, and muscle strengthening. While wrinkling isn’t an issue for canines, it is the equivalent of improving skin and coat health. The bulk of the skin and coat consists of collagen.
Do you need to buy a collagen supplement especially for dogs or can you give your dog collagen designed for human consumption? If the product is strictly collagen, you can probably give it to your pet after calculating the right amount for his size.
Most human collagen supplements contain other ingredients though, and this is where you must be careful. Some of these ingredients are not suitable for dogs, while others will contain more of a particular substance than your dog should have.
It’s in your dog’s best interest to give him collagen and supplements designed with his needs in mind.